The Bartow High School Boys basketball team had not won two consecutive games all season until their impressive wins last week over Hardee County (63-18) and Lake Wales (83-77).
Tuesday night they attempted to stay perfect in 2014 as district rival Lakeland High School came calling to The Hive. This game was important for Bartow to win, as a huge district game loomed on the horizon against the Kathleen Red Devils (12-2, 3-0 in district play).
Senior point guard Derrick Brooks got the Jackets going early as Bartow raced out to a quick 5-0 lead. The opening Bartow run was answered by Lakeland as they put together a 10-2 run to take a 10-7 lead with four minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Lakeland extended their lead to 16-7 with two consecutive three pointers.
The Jackets came right back to close the deficit with three straight buckets to send the game to the second quarter with a 16-13 score in favor of the Dreadnaughts.
As I have come to realize over the years, the coaching staff at Bartow has many years of experience and they just plain know what they are doing. I am not sure what was said to the team prior to second quarter. To be honest, it really does not matter, but the players received it and the light bulb went on for the Jacket players and went out for the team from Lakeland.
A dominant second quarter defensively and an offensive explosion by the Jackets saw Bartow outscore Lakeland 22-5 in the quarter and take commanding 35-21 lead to halftime.
The third quarter was more of the same as the Jackets outscored Lakeland 20-11 and headed to the final quarter with a 55-32 lead. From there the cruise control was on and the Jackets coasted to their third win in a row as they used a very balanced scoring attack for the 66-49 win.
Tony Bradley had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Bartow. Also leading the Jackets to victory were Deyontre Jordan with 15 points, McKinley Harvin with 13 points and Brooks with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The victory raised Bartow’s record to 8-8 on the year and more importantly 4-1 in district play. The big showdown with Kathleen that was previously mentioned took place last night.
The next contest for the Jackets will take place Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Haines City High School. For a full schedule of upcoming games, go to bartow basketball.net.